Arizona political experts cast doubt on likelihood of Arpaio winning
PHOENIX — Two Valley political experts say they don’t think former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will be voted back into office, following his Sunday announcement that he will run in 2020.
While the Republican is widely recognized in the state, it’s not necessarily helpful in this case, they said.
Consultant Stan Barnes told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Monday that news coverage of Arpaio’s misdemeanor criminal contempt conviction in 2017 will bring him down.
“On paper, he’s going to have 100% name identification and no doubt can raise a lot of money. He might even have the president of the United States endorse him,” Barnes said.
“But I think on the other side of the scale, that knowledge of him is too intimate … and you combine that with the effects of being (87) years old, and it just can’t happen.”
Political expert Mike O’Neil told KTAR News that Arpaio has been on a “30-year decline,” meaning that while his candidacy will likely garner lots of headlines, the coverage won’t necessarily translate into votes.
Although President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio, O’Neil said the negative reputation he gained is still “a recipe for a very weakened candidacy.”
Barnes said he thinks Arpaio’s age will be another big factor. The former sheriff would enter his 90s during his term if elected.
“It’s not ageism. It’s just speaking honestly,” Barnes said.
Apraio’s former Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, who has already announced a run for sheriff, said the announcement doesn’t affect his decision.
“My focus has always been on getting the bad guys not getting headlines,” Sheridan said in a statement Monday.
“We need a professional and proven lawman to win this office back and the voters have already made it clear they will not vote for Joe.”
Arpaio spent 24 years as sheriff. In a statement Sunday, he vowed to enforce laws associated with the U.S.-Mexico border crimes and laws dealing with migrants coming into the country illegally.
He also wants to reopen the outdoor tent jail complex he started that was closed by his successor, Democrat Paul Penzone.
Arpaio lost to Penzone in 2016. After the six-term sheriff’s defeat, he was convicted for his acknowledged disobedience of a judge’s 2011 order that barred his traffic patrols targeting immigrants.
The former sheriff was accused of prolonging the patrols for 17 months to boost his successful 2012 re-election campaign.
He has called himself “America’s toughest sheriff” and has previously floated the possibility of a run for office only to decide not to in the end. The only exception was his run last year for the Senate.
Arpaio was among three candidates in the Republican primary election and came in last place.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.